Saturday, November 27, 2010

Horror summer fails to shift Russia climate scepticism

Maria Antonova in AsiaOne News: Russia may have endured its hottest summer on record and battled deadly forest fires, but attitudes on climate change remain dominated by scepticism and even mired in conspiracy theories. Experts see no major substantial movement in Russia's stance ahead of the latest UN climate conference in Cancun, despite the occasional acknowledgment by President Dmitry Medvedev that the earth is warming.

During the last major climate conference in Copenhagen, Medvedev published Russia's ambitious Climate Doctrine and even appointed a climate adviser a month later. Russia's own weather agency Rosgidromet said in a weighty 2008 report that daily average temperatures in Russia would rise by four to six degrees Celsius by 2050, and that the change of the past 50 years was most likely man-made. It concluded that "the dependency of Russia's nature and economy on climatic factors... demand a serious scientific base to government policy on climate change."

But two years later, after summer forest fires that ravaged more than a million hectares (2.5 million acres) in Russia and a heatwave believed to have killed thousands, state media are still debating whether climate change is a myth. In August, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin even wondered aloud if the natural dying out of mammoths around 10,000 BC means that current climate change was also a phenomenon independent of human influence.

"Most scientists in the world now share the view that climate change is human-caused, but in Russia science is very politicized," said Vladimir Chuprov, a climate expert for Greenpeace Russia….

Smog over Moscow after wildfires in the summer of 2010, shot by A.Savin/--S, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

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